Unless you have been living under a rock over the last year or so, you know that one of the biggest stories about the internet has to be the amount of financial fraud we are seeing happening on the net. While the old emails about old friends stuck in foreign airports and needing financial help seem to have finally finished making the circuit, there are always new and different twists on email fraud.
Meanwhile we read about phishing expeditions that have nothing to do with catching lake trout and everything to do with catching us giving away our passwords and personal information to crooks. Banks and even hospitals are finding that they are fighting off hackers who invade their websites and hold their information hostage for bitcoin payoffs.
So, what can you, an ordinary individual, do to protect yourself when you are on the net? Here are some tips to keep in mind at all times to protect yourself against personal financial fraud and worst.
Only Buy from Secure Sites
Shopping online has to be one of the all time most convenient ways to get what we need, at the best price and when we need it. Best of all it can be delivered right to our door. But with that convenience has come all kinds of fraudulent websites that only look like they are safe to buy from.
When you go online with the intent of doing a bit of shoe shopping or finding the best price on that new work interview suit, do your research of the site first. Does it have secure online payment in place? You can know this by finding the icon for a closed locked padlock in front of its URL. If it has this it means they have used security software to ensure that your transaction is safe. Never purchase from a site that doesn’t have this symbol.
Guard Your Passwords
We all know that our smartphone should be locked with a passcode to protect it from theft. But do you make sure that when you use that smartphone that you are not in a place where someone can eavesdrop on your transactions and steal your passwords? Never shop and transmit financial information over a public Wi-fi network like the ones you find at coffee shops.
Anyone can drop in on your transaction with a bit of knowledge on how Wi-Fi networks act. Be safe, keep your shopping restricted to places where you know that your network online is secure, such as at home where you have a password protected network. Leave your coffeehouse for cruising your social media sites for the latest gossip and news from old friends.
It always surprises me when I read in the news about some new email scam that is making the rounds and all the people that fall for them. They might be a prince in a foreign land looking for help with a bank account in your country. They might be a bank looking for you to update your information by following a link and giving them your information.
Just remember that if it sounds even vaguely strange, delete it. Better yet, report it. When unsure, google the word “fraud” and the name of the sender to see if it is listed on one of the several fraud reporting websites. Never open an email that looks odd, even if it says it is from someone you know. If your Uncle Bob never asks you to open an “exciting offer” then call him before you open that email.